Saturday, August 1, 2015

We love street trees, we hate street trees

We SHOULD love street trees: they beautify our neighborhoods, produce oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide, and even absorb some pollutants.  Some would credit them with even more benefits.

But we also love and take for granted the electricity that powers our lives.  And sometimes the two clash.  Trees are involved in 30% of power outages.  So the electric utilities send out crews to our neighborhood every few years to reduce the clash. 

This year tree trimming crews showed up in early April, leaving in their wake mutilated trees and the odd wood chip.   Such is the life of a street tree: subject annually to one of the most feared "herbivores" in the urban ecosystem.  

The tree trimmers have a mandate: make sure wires and tree do not meet, even in strong winds.  Their mandate is not beauty, nor even tree health, I fear.  Having lost power due to falling trees and limbs, I am sympathetic to this mandate.  But it's a shame when it results in deformed, often Y-shaped, trees. 

These three trees--all sugar maples--are all neighbors.  I try not to look at them too often.

It doesn't look like much of a haircut from here, but the tree butchers took off all the low
limbs that I was using to monitor flowering, fruiting, and shoot & leaf development.
Silver maple "before" photo from April 6th, "after" photos from later in spring, and August 1st.

This trimming actually worked: the result is safe wires
over the long term, and a fairly graceful tree.

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